Sunday, January 1, 2012

Graeme Craig of the Swift Current Broncos shows off
his new look after a puck took out three teeth on
Friday night in Regina. What a way to bring in a new year!

(Photo courtesy Graeme Craig via Twitter — @craigstand6)
Graeme Craig is in his third season as a defenceman with the Swift Current Broncos.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder from Red Deer is one of those steady performers who will sacrifice his body for the team.
On Friday night, he took one for the team and it cost him three teeth.
With Regina leading 1-0 late in the second period, Pats F Jordan Weal took a one-timer that went high.
“As I turned to face the play, it hit me square in the mouth,” Craig wrote to me on New Year’s Eve.
It was a bad luck play all around as the puck went off Craig’s face into the crease and F Jack Rodewald tucked it in for his third goal of the season and one that stood up as the game-winner.
I’ll let Craig explain the dental aspect of it all:
“It turns out it was only three teeth — two were laying on the ice and we tried to put them back in but the bone that holds them in place got smashed. Got the third one pulled later in the dentist office.
“Seven stitches to close the holes. For now it'll be a week or so til I get X-rays and then will get a denture made for the rest of the season. I'm really hoping I can get some permanent ones or I'll be devastated haha.”
Of course, when Craig returns to the lineup he plans on wearing a cage.
And when will he makes his return?
He says he hopes to play today — New Year’s Day — against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers.
Hey, he’s a hockey player!
As you may have guessed, Craig’s mother, Helen, “was pretty upset and concerned.”
“I had pretty nice teeth, didn’t have braces or anything and she was probably mourning their loss more than I was,” Craig noted.
Craig has 20 points, three of them goals, and 182 penalty minutes in 163 regular-season games over three seasons. This season, he has a career-high two goals, to go with four helpers, in 30 games.
D David Musil of the Vancouver Giants didn’t play for the Czech Republic on Saturday in a 4-0 loss to Finland at the World Junior Championship. He took a blindside hit on Friday in a game against the U.S., and is experiencing concussion-like symptoms. . . . F Sven Bartschi of the Portland Winterhawks has missed Switzerland’s last two games and is believed to have a concussion. . . .
F Shayne Wiebe (Kamloops, Brandon, 2007-11) has been released by the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps and will join the University of New Brunswick Reds, who are the defending Canadian university champions. The 21-year-old Wiebe, who is from Brandon, had four assists in 12 games with the IceCaps, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. . . .
When Team Canada beat the U.S., 3-2, at the World Junior Championship on Saturday, the opposing goaltenders were Scott Wedgewood and Jack Campbell. Interestingly, they have something in common, aside from the fact both play in the OHL, Wedgewood with the Plymouth Whalers and Campbell with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. . . . They both are coached by former WHL G Stan Matwijiw, who played with the Prince Albert Raiders (1991-94) and Lethbridge Hurricanes (1993-94). . . . These days, Matwijiw operates Bandits Goalie School, with Campbell and Wedgewood included among his students. Matwijiw also is Plymouth’s goaltender coach. . . . And a stick tap to former Raiders play-by-play voice Kevin Smook for that one.
WHL TRADE TRACKER (trades made since Dec. 27):
Trades made: 4
Players: 11
Draft picks: 4
The race to the Jan. 10 trade deadline continued on Saturday as the Prince Albert Raiders dealt F Brandon Herrod, 20, to the Kamloops Blazers for F Logan McVeigh, 17, and a 2012 second-round bantam draft pick.
Herrod, who is expected to be in the Blazers’ lineup tonight against the visiting Prince George Cougars, has 36 points, including 18 goals, in 40 games this season. He has played 314 career regular-season games, never playing fewer than 64 games in a season, and has put up 241 points, 106 of them goals. Herrod is from Meadow Lake, Sask., and was a third-round pick by the Raiders in the 2006 bantam draft.
The Blazers have had room for a 20-year-old since trading D Josh Caron to the Everett Silvertips on Nov. 29. Kamloops has been looking for a winger to play alongside LW Brendan Ranford and C Chase Schaber. That spot had belonged to RW Jordan DePape, but he is out until at least March after having shoulder surgery on Nov. 4.
McVeigh, from Kenaston, Sask., was a second-round selection in the 2009 bantam draft. A sophomore, he has 16 points, including five goals, in 34 games. Last season, he finished with 13 points, four of them goals, in 59 games. He is a superb penalty killer and strong defensively.
The Raiders next play Wednesday when they meet the Pats in Regina.
Late Saturday night, McVeigh tweeted:
“This 14 hour drive back to sask is getting old #butworthit , new years on the highway #lonely”
In Saturday’s Everett Herald, Silvertips GM Doug Soetaert reiterated that he won’t trade D Ryan Murray, who almost certainly will be a top five selection in the NHL’s 2012 draft.
Here’s what Soetaert told the Herald’s Nick Patterson:
“Ryan Murray is what we want in a hockey player. Ryan is a young man who plays hard every day. He cares and competes. He's played hard in every game he's been with us since he was a 16-year-old. That's the type of player we want in our organization, and I won't trade Ryan Murray.”
In Everett, the Moose Jaw Warriors got out to a 3-0 lead and went on to beat the Silvertips, 5-2. . . . F Sam Fioretti, who was in Everett’s training camp in 2008, scored twice and set up another for the Warriors, who are 1-1 on their U.S. Division swing. Fioretti has 14 goals. . . . Moose Jaw has won five of its last six games. . . . F Justin Kirsch had three assists. . . . F Ryan Harrison had two assists for Everett, giving him five points over his last two games. . . . Everett went in having picked up at least a point in each of its last four games. . . . The two heavyweights — Moose Jaw D Dylan McIlrath and Everett D Josh Caron — got it on 9:13 into the first period. . . . Warriors G Luke Siemens stopped 22 shots in winning his 20th game. Siemens, who was acquired from Everett early in the season, is 20-7-5. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Tri-City Americans tied a 20-year-old franchise record as they beat the Spokane Chiefs, 4-1. . . . The Americans have won 10 straight games, equalling the franchise record set in 1991. . . . The Americans went 10-0 in December, the first time in franchise history a team had gone undefeated in a month in which it played five or more games. . . . This was the 21st renewal of the New Year’s Eve series between the visiting Chiefs and the Americans. Tri-City now is 14-5-1 with one other game ending in a tie (remember them?). . . . F Patrick Holland and F Justin Feser each had a goal and two assists. Holland, who scored while shorthanded, has 15 goals; Feser has 18. . . . Attendance was announced at 6,064, the third-largest crowd in franchise history. . . . Spokane G Eric Williams stopped 16 shots in his first start since being acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders earlier in the week. . . .

In Portland, the Winterhawks held a 48-18 edge in shots as they beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 2-0. . . . G Mac Carruth stopped 18 shots for the shutout, his first of the season and third of his career. . . . Portland F Ty Rattie, who leads the WHL with 37 goals, scored the game’s first goal, with 9.3 seconds left in the second period. . . . Portland held a 23-3 edge in shots in the second period. . . . F Brendan Leipsic added a PP goal at 1:51 of the third. . . . These two teams have played in Portland each New Year’s Eve since 1995. Portland holds a 9-8-0 edge or, if you prefer, Seattle is 8-8-1. . . . The game drew 10,356 fans, Portland’s fourth straight game over 8,000. . . . The Winterhawks were without F Oliver Gabriel (undisclosed). F Pearce Eviston, 19, played his first game this season with the Winterhawks. He had one goal in two games last season. He also played in 12 playoff games, getting one assist. . . .
D Sam Grist, Tri-City (double minor)
Team Pacific ran its record to 3-0 with a 4-3 victory over Russia on Saturday at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in LaSalle, Ont. . . . F Nic Petan (Portland) scored twice for Team Pacific, with F Macoy Erkamps (Lethbridge) and F Tyson Baillie (Kelowna) adding one each. . . . Petan’s second goal, at 19:14 of the second period, gave Team Pacific a 4-1 lead. . . . G Eric Comrie (Tri-City) stopped 27 shots. . . . F Sam Reinhart (Kootenay) had two assists. . . . After the game, Team Pacific headed across the river to the Joe Louis Arena and watched the Detroit Red Wings beat the St. Louis Blues, 3-0. Following the NHL game, the players spent about an hour in the Red Wings’ dressing room as guests of Detroit assistant coach Bill Peters, a former Spokane Chiefs coach. “It was a tremendous experience for the players,” one team official reported. “Bill had lots of motivational words and even passed around his Stanley Cup ring for the boys to try on for size.” . . .
On Saturday, in Tecumseh, Ont., Team West dropped a 5-2 decision to the Czech Republic. F Craig Leverton (Lethbridge) and F Jonathan Martin (Kootenay) scored for Team West, which got 30 saves from G Austin Lotz (Everett).
Team Pacific (3-0) is off until Monday when it plays the U.S. Today, Team West (0-2) meets the U.S. (1-1).
Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times takes a look at the NHL and its problem with head injuries right here. She ends her piece with some chilling words from player agent Allan Walsh, who has been quite vocal about what he feels is a lack of action by the NHL.
Dillman writes that Walsh feels “the greatest push (for change) will come from a venue outside the sporting arena, taking note of the many lawsuits filed in the last few months by former NFL players against their league over concussions.”
She quotes Walsh: "Mark my words, lawsuits are coming. And there will be no greater change agent for the NHL and teams than lawsuits."
And right here is today’s good read, from Bruce Arthur of the National Post. It’s a compilation of 2011’s best sports-related quotes. It's long, so make sure the coffee pot has three cups in it. Enjoy! . . . And a Happy New Year to all.
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